Low rates of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination in low-income, minority adolescents may exacerbate racial disparities in cervical cancer incidence.
Using electronic medical record data and chart abstraction, we examined correlates of HPV vaccine series initiation and completion among 7702 low-income and minority adolescents aged 11–21 receiving primary care at one of seven medical centers between May 1, 2007, and June 30, 2009. Our population included 61% African Americans, 13% Caucasians, 15% Latinas, and 11% other races; 90% receive public insurance (e.g., Medicaid). We used logistic regression to estimate the associations between vaccine initiation and completion and age, race/ethnicity, number of contacts with the healthcare system, provider documentation, and clinical site of care.
Of the 41% of adolescent girls who initiated HPV vaccination, 20% completed the series. A higher proportion of girls aged 11–<13 (46%) and 13–<18 (47%) initiated vaccination than those aged 18–21 (28%). In adjusted analyses, receipt of other recommended adolescent vaccines was associated with vaccine initiation, and increased contact with the medical system was associated with both initiation and completion of the series. Conversely, provider failure to document risky health behaviors predicted nonvaccination. Manual review of a subset of unvaccinated patients' charts revealed no documentation of vaccine discussions in 67% of cases.
Fewer than half of low-income and minority adolescents receiving health maintenance services initiated HPV vaccination, and only 20% completed the series. Provider failure to discuss vaccination with their patients appears to be an important contributor to nonvaccination. Future research should focus on improving both initiation and completion of HPV vaccination in high-risk adolescents.